We lived in Old East London for 12 years and were victims of vandalism many times. Prostitution, drugs, biker gangs, the sounds of gun shots were things we would not miss. Around the turn of the millennium, the neighborhood was going downhill fast. We had over-improved the house for the neighbourhood.
The London police ignored this area until it was time for an election or police budget; and then, they would make a major drug bust or crack down. The Glebe Street crack down and Project Impact – the Rendevous tavern – made the news before the last 2 elections. The police station has had two major expansons since we left old East London. Many local residents referred to this area as the city planned ghetto, and the residents were used as pawns to get police budgets.
New Years Eve we had to stay up and guard our house with a baseball bat or golf club, as previous years we had individuals trying to smash our windows at 1 or 2am, as patrons were leaving the 4 mega New Years Eves parties at the fairgrounds. Over the years we were woken up 2, 3 or 4 in the morning with fights and beatings in the neighboring parking lot. We saw a fight where someone was beaten on the head with a lead pipe; another fight resulted in the fence across the street at the 7 Eleven knocked down in a big brawl. Prostitutes would stop cars from leaving the parking lot and often serviced their clients right in the parking lot. People were often seen urinating in the parking lot or in our driveway; beer bottles were smashed against our house. We did have some really nice neighbors and the friendly squirrels helped keep our spirits up.
This was a common problem which the police did little to stop.
My car was smashed in my own driveway the Friday night following the big crackdown the night before at the Rendezvous Tavern around the corner. The police made the news and got the exposure they wanted for the next election and police budget. There was no police presence on the following night to address the people coming from out of town to party at the Tavern that the cops had shut down the day before. When my car was smashed in my own driveway, I called 911 to tell them the 3 youths were walking (NOT running) away. The police never responded; they got their press the night before. At 12:30 am, I stopped a police car that had just left the donut shop around the corner, about 1.5 hours after the incident. The police officer asked if I caused the damage myself for the insurance. I told the idiot cop that my neighbor sitting on his porch saw the whole thing. The officer never even took a pen out or wrote up a report. The police rarely responded to calls in our neighborhood, and they look down on the residents that live there. The residents are only important for grandstanding for police budgets, elections or additions to the police station.
This city owned parking lot within a 5-minute walk of our old house was patrolled 24-7 for cars with expired parking receipts. Only in Old East London would the city allow stuff like this. We placed a series of photos online and alerted the media. City hall sent someone out, and in 30 minutes all garbage was cleaned up and 12 garbage cans were chained up to light poles along Dundas. Until the city was exposed turning a blind eye, this was a common site for Old East London. You would never see things like this in Westmount or Masonvllle, richer parts of town.
Beer bottles, knives, needles, condoms, broken glass — all were common sights.
Needles were often found in the local school yard.
A window with a bullet hole from a hand gun, not a pellet gun. This window was within eyesight of the police station.Windows broken by thrown beer bottles — a common sight.
In the spring of 2004, we had 4 hail storms before the May 31, 2004 win that just about removed most of the surface off the shingles.
Winning the lottery was a plan to help us get out of the ghetto and to save our lives. Positive thinking, dreams, visualization and a Lottery Charm to hold the winning ticket to a corkboar — This was our ticket to a better life.
Had we not won the lottery in 2004 and left the old hood, we might not even be here today.
Hours before the win, we heard what sounded like 2 shot gun blasts, that did bring the police. It turned out to be kids lighting off fireworks. We hit the floor and waited until we heard the sirens stop. The above photo was taken from our Old East London driveway.
Everything we had was invested in our home that was over-improved for the neighborhood in an area where even the police did not want to get out of their cars.
Of the $25,000 we won with the dream home package, we put $11,000 into repairs which included a new roof, eave troughs, paint, repairing windows, etc. This place was too beautiful inside and out to rent out, so we put it up for sale. For 5 months we had double property taxes, electricity, heating, phone, alarm, etc. The cash reserves quickly evaporated, and we were forced to reduce the price with the winter season approaching. We had lights on timers and with snow soon on the way, the house could be a victim of graffiti or worse. Driving 2 cars back and forth between the 2 houses was also an extra gas expense. I told Sheila we needed to sell the sports car, meaning we had to give up something we cherished in order to get something more important. So on the following Monday, with no signs of selling the old house, the dealer bought back the $34,000+ Mazda Miata for only $21,500. Two days later we sold the old house. I still believe we had to sell the car to sell the old house. It was fun having a sports car, but not having to pay an extra $1,400 to insure it, not to mention the cost of gas, it was a blessing to no longer have it.
The money from the sale of the Miata practically paid for our new Honda Civic in the following spring.
We sold the old house in late November 2004, which was a big weight lifted off our shoulders. Time to enjoy the dream home we won.